Dog Rescuer: Ahu and Me

dog
Pamela Constable, the author, with her recovered dog Ahu and a group of Pakistan journalists and laundrymen who found her. (Courtesy of Pamela Constable)
Pamela Constable
Washiington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 28, 2009; 11:00 AM

Washington Post foreign correspondent Pamela Constable was online from Islamabad on Tuesday, July 28, at 11 a.m. ET to discuss her story about the loss of Ahu, a small, slender brown and white street hound which she rescued from under a taxicab at an airport, and the unexpected reconnections she made with acquaintances who helped her find her beloved pet.

Ahu & Me: A Dog Is Lost, Hope Is Found In Pakistan (Post, July 28)

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Pamela Constable: hi, this is pam in islamabad, ready to talk about my lost and found dog ahu and looking forward to your questions and comments.

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Chicago, Ill.: Good morning, Pam. I just wanted to say that I read your story and it brought tears to my eyes. I volunteer for a dog rescue here in the midwest and our mission is to find a home for all dogs. Thank you for saving Ahu.

Pamela Constable: thanks for your nice message. there are so many dogs in this part of the world who need loving homes. helping just one seems like a small thing, but i do believe that kindness has ripple effects.

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Columbia, Md.: Hi there. This is such a nice and up lifting story. It goes to show that un expected events can bring people to learn so much of their surroundings. I am very touched by your story, As a animal lover myself, I can feel your heart breaking when your dog was lost. My dog, Peppermint is such a great dog that I would probably do what you did if she ever got away. Very good story. Thank you. Thank you for not giving up. When Ahu looks at you, I am sure she is the happiest thing in the world to have found you. You both complement each other.

Thank you.

Pamela Constable: ahu is looking at me right now. she just had dinner and is getting ready for another nap. she has no idea how many people are discovering her today. i am bringing her home on saturday and she is going to live on a farm in connecticut.

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Woodhaven, N.Y.: Pam: I'd like to teach the world about Pam Constable: My mentor, guardian angel to all living creatures, my inspiration when I think animal cruelty will just completely destroy me. This is a woman like no other I know. God bless Pam Constable, a friend to so many and a friend to me. Love -- Debra

Pamela Constable: debra, i could never do this without your help. thank you for everything. ahu says woof.

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Washington, D.C.: How did you end up writing this story? Was it more fun than your regular (amazing) dispatches?

Pamela Constable: not exactly fun but very intense and meaningful. these kinds of stories write themselves straight from the heart.

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Fort Walton Beach: As a Pakistani Muslim in USA and a dog lover I salute you for being kind to the animals. Pakistanis are good people but they really never learned to love animals. Thanks for writing this beautiful story. Next time I am in Pakistan I might be looking under the taxis to find an Ahu. Thanks again

washingtonpost.com: Ahu & Me: A Dog Is Lost, Hope Is Found In Pakistan (Post, July 28)

Pamela Constable: you can find cats hanging around the butcher shops too. i know all the hiding places. let me know if you need help.

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Fairfax, Va.: OH! Your story touched me! I adopted a little beagle mix from a rescue here in the states and the thing slipped out of her collar and disappeared into the early morning across a busy intersection. For 36 hours I looked for her -- and every single person I approached said they would look for her too. It is so amazing to see the compassion from strangers when a little dog is involved. I am glad to know that it exists around the world and that there is still goodness and kindness.

P.S. Zoe came back all on her own. Now we have a huge harness to walk her with.

Pamela Constable: absolutely. sometimes people look at you like you are crazy, but often they want to join in and help. it takes a village to find a lost dog.

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Central Virginia: I read your story and was taken with how a lost dog can pull together so many, and I'm glad that Ahu is back home. I'm interested in how stray dogs are viewed by residents and the dogs' behaviors -- from your story, it appears that they are more domesticated than feral.

Pamela Constable: i would say they are somewhere in between feral and domesticated, more like neighbors in poor areas. people feed them but don't keep them or take them to the vet.

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Washington, D.C.: Nice story. Do you have hopes/wishes to bring Ahu to the states when you ultimately return? Thanks.

Pamela Constable: ahu and i are flying to the USA on saturday and she is going to live on a farm in connecticut. a happy ending!!!

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Bethesda, Md.: So, did Ahu make it through your next departure with any less anguish?

Pamela Constable: i got back yesterday and she danced around in circles. now she is taking a nap.

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Columbia, Md. : Hi there. This is such a nice and up lifting story. It goes to show that un expected events can bring people to learn so much of their surroundings. I am very touched by your story, As a animal lover myself, I can feel your heart breaking when your dog was lost. My dog, Peppermint is such a great dog that I would probably do what you did if she ever got away. Very good story. Thank you. Thank you for not giving up. When Ahu looks at you, I am sure she is the happiest thing in the world to have found you. You both complement each other.

Thank you.

Ruben. jose.ruben.hernandez@us.army.mil

Pamela Constable: and thank you for caring. there are a lot of soldiers out there who rescue pups or cats but then have to abandon them. if you find one, keep in touch with me and i can help you find a way to get it home safely.

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Springfield, Va.: These stories might "write themselves" but I think it takes talent to convey empathy to the reader. I loved your story. It was intense. As a fellow dog lover, I felt your anxiety, worry, pain and elation. I don't always want to read about the woes of the day. A story such as yours is uplifting mired in with not-so-happy ending stories. Thank you for sharing.

Pamela Constable: it was my pleasure. i have been a writer and an animal lover all my life, so it's a natural combination. thanks for writing, and for caring.

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Washington, D.C.: Any idea who the dog belonged to before you got him? How many stray dogs and cats are in Islamabad? Is the situation controlled in any way?

Pamela Constable: i have a sneaking suspicion someone once owned her, because she is so well behaved and people-friendly. there are a lot of stray dogs and cats in pakistan and in so many other countries i have lived and worked in. some places they are "controlled" by mass poisoning. other places they are cared for. mumbai has a stray dog mobile clinic. i wish there were more shelters and humane societies in more poor countries. often such efforts must be made by small private charities.

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Fairfax, Va.: Is it a cultural thing in that it doesn't seem that dogs and cats are as highly revered in that part of the world as they are here in the United States. Is this true and if so, can you explain?

Pamela Constable: this is a complicated issue. one aspect is poverty. people who are struggling to survive often do not have the means or energy to reach out to animals. in muslim cultures, dogs are often seen as unclean and as something to be shunned. people are not taught to be kind to them but to keep them far away. often children torment them. there is a lot of dog-fighting in some countries like afghanistan. ironically, people who own fighting dogs tend to pamper them because they are valuable. i think the key is education. if children are shown that dogs and cats can be clean and healthy and friendly, they will not fear them or want to shun them. if shelters and humane societies are set up, stray populations can be humanely controlled and people can come to see cats and dogs as companions, rather than nuisances or dangers.

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Washington, D.C.: Does Ahu seem faithful to you? Do you think he somehow feels you saved him from a life on the streets? Do you believe animals have those types of emotions?

Pamela Constable: it is a very interesting question. dogs can bond with individuals in less than an hour, and they remember them for a long time. if you are kind to a dog, it will remember that and come to you after a long time. if you are mean to a dog, it will remember that and always fear you. faithfulness in dogs is closely linked to appreciation for food and kindness. it is in their genes. dogs will show their gratitude by leaving their food and coming over to you. they are highly intelligent and sensitive to the entire range of human behavior.

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Annapolis, Md.: Did you mention that you have another dog or that you've had other rescued dogs from over there?

Pamela Constable: i have lived in many countries and have tried to help many many dogs over the years. i work with a small project in afghanistan that tries to help stray animals. it is a drop in the bucket, but i tell myself that each rescued animal counts, and that slowly the idea of compassion and humane care for all animals can spread.

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Kansas City, Mo.: Thank you so much for giving a dog rescuer like me something to smile about on a day when the Vick news makes me scream in frustration.

You are my hero!

Pamela Constable: ahu sends her happiest grin.

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Virginia: Will Ahu have to go through quarantine before entering the U.S.? It doesn't sound like she will spend her life with you. Do you think she will bond with her new family?

Pamela Constable: the US has strict import rules for dogs but no quarantine for those that are healthy, vaccinated and old enough to travel, unless they come from certain places with disease outbreaks. ahu is very healthy and vaccinated and is going home soon to live on a farm in connecticut. i have many many animals in every corner of my life and always try to find homes for the new ones who come along.

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Court House in Virginia: Hi Pamela -- You mentioned getting in contact with you about how to help soldiers transport animals back. I'd love to donate so such a charity. Can you send on your contact info and/or tell us the best way to donate to such causes overseas? Whether it be humane societies, or to help soldiers.

Thanks. I loved your piece.

Pamela Constable: please contact the spca's program operation baghdad pups, at spca.org, or the humane society international, or the afghan stray animal league, at www.afghanstrayanimals.org.

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Mt. Rainier, Md.: I'm an animal lover myself and was so glad you had a happy ending, and very glad that you were able to meet a lot of ordinary and kind Pakistanis on the way. I think Americans tend not to realize that owning a pet is a luxury that most of the world cannot afford or understand. Of course, it's different when the animal is a working animal, part of the team that feeds the family; then there may be a lot of affection, too.

Pamela Constable: what you say is very true. i always stress the importance of keeping an animal healthy, clean and safe, rather than pampering or spoiling it. otherwise people in this part of the world think it is ridiculous.

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Annandale, Va.: Will you be living on the farm and still be with Ahu?

Pamela Constable: no, i travel constantly and keep animals in many parts of the world. i plan to visit ahu when i can, and i try to visit other animals i have placed for adoption too.

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washingtonpost.com: Afghan Stray Animal League

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Washington, D.C.: Do you have people take care of all these animals that you adopt on the farm and elsewhere? What are the other locations other than Connecticut? Do you visit them? Are they in good care?

Pamela Constable: i have quite a few adopted animals at my home in virginia, my office in islamabad and the project which i help in afghanistan. they are all very well cared for. it is the passion of my life.

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Pamela Constable: thanks to all of you who sent heartfelt messages about ahu and expressed concern about how to help stray animals in other countries. for more information you are welcome to contact the spca's operation baghdad pups, the humane society international, or kabulcritters@gmail.com.

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washingtonpost.com: Afghan Stray Animal League

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